Philosophy 302-A1 Prof.Michael Kagan
Issues in Ethics: Developing Office Hours in RH-422
Philosophical Responses to M 9:30-10:30 AM
Moral Challenges and by appointment.
Summer 1998 445-4489(campus)
Three goals of this course are to:
(1) introduce students to philosophical debates on moral problems of
(2) present criticisms that will aid students in evaluating some of the
(3) help students better develop and defend their own positions.
Carl Wellman's Morals and Ethics, second edition. Englewood
Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc, 1988.
Orson Scott Card's Maps in a Mirror. New York: Tom
Doherty Associates, Inc., 1990.
We will consider six moral problems and related philosophical
ethical issues as follows:
Moral Problem PhilosophicalEthical Issue
1. Civil Disobedience TheNature of Right and Wrong
2. Genetic Engineering TheGood
3. Cheating in Academia MoralValue
4. Abortion TheEnd of the Law
5. Preferential Admissions "ARight"
6. Capital Punishment MoralKnowledge
These issues will be treated in lectures and discussions as the course
progresses. During the discussions students will have an opportunity to
make sense out of and criticize other positions, and to develop and
defend their own reasoned conclusions.
To confirm students' familiarity with the material and the basics of the
various positions, a midterm and final exam will be given. In these
exams, the student will be asked to defend his or her own position
concerning a moral problem discussed in class and a related
philosophical issue covered before the exam (not necessarily the issue
paired with that problem in class; e.g., on the final exam, the student
might be asked to consider whether or not genetic engineering should be
legal given the student's own views on the end of the law). ON THE
MIDTERM AND FINAL EXAMS, an additional question will be asked concerning
an issue raised by Maps in a Mirror.
The exams are primarily related to the first two objectives of this
course concerning criticism of and familiarity with philosophical
debates on moral problems of present concern. It is also hoped that
preparation for the exams will help students satisfy the third goal of
developing and defending their own positions on these and related
issues. For those student who wish to do more work in this area. there
is an optional paper assignment.
EVALUATIONS AND REQUIREMENTS Attendance and Participation.Attendance is expected. Participation in discussions will figure to thestudent's benefit in determining grades. ATTENDANCE COUNTS 10% OF THE FINALGRADE, AS DOES PARTICIPATION. GRADING IS DONE ON THE "TRADITIONALTEN POINT SCALE"[90-100 = A RANGE, 80-89 = B RANGE, ETC.
Exams. Students are expected to be familiar with the material in thelectures, discussions, and the required texts. This familiarity will beevaluated in the midterm (6/11) and cumulative final (6/25). These eachconstitute 40% of the grade. However, if the final is better, it will begiven more weight.
Extra-credit: Each student will be given a chance to develop and defendhis or her own position on one of the moral problems or theoretical issuesdiscussed in this course. Students are encouraged to consider problemsnot explicitly treated in the course, e.g.:
1. Is war always wrong?
2. Is the use of psychological testimony in the courts on a par with allegationsof witchcraft?
3. Should cigarette smoking be illegal?
4. Is cigarette smoking ever justified?
5. Is the use of alcohol (or marijuana or cocaine or . . . ) good or bad?
6. Should men (or women) have a genuinely equal right to work outside thehome?
7. Should men (or women) have a genuinely equal right to work inside thehome?
8. Is adultery always wrong?
9. The laws on rape should be . . . . . .
10. Ethical Relativism (pro or con).
11. Why be moral?
12. Ethical Egoism (pro or con).
13. Justification in Ethics.
14. Religion and ethics.
15. Is it wrong to eat meat?
16. Animal rights.
17. Should aborted fetuses be used for research or treatment?
18. The obligations of the living to the dying.
19. The obligations of the dying to the living.
20. Other topics.
Students are encouraged to treat topics of their own choosing. If, however,you decide to do so, please confirm your topic with me in advance. Whateveryour topic, please feel free to consult me regarding bibliography, style,or as a devil's advocate.
Criteria for evaluation of the extra-credit paper: The paper isto be a defense of one claim or proposal related to the issue in question.Students should explicitly state the claim they are defending, make a briefcase for its importance, develop their arguments carefully, consider objections,show awareness of alternatives and criticisms of their own position. Studentsare to assume they are not preaching to the converted: The paper shouldbe structured in form and content as if it were being addressed to an audienceconsisting of the undecided and the reasonable opposition. The paper shouldbe approximately 5-7 pages in length. The paper is to be turned in TWICE,on the dates indicated below. The 1st draft will be graded and given commentsthat I hope will aid you in the revision. If you are satisfied with thefirst grade or decide to accept it for some other reason, you have theoption of returning the paper "as-is" with its comments on June18. If you do so, your grade on the paper will be the grade you receivedon the first draft. If you opt to revise, you will receive the grade ofthe revision, if higher (and the grade on the draft, if not). The papergrade will replace the lower of the midterm or final grade. Students whoreceive a B or better on the paper can choose to accept that grade insteadof taking the final exam.
SUMMARY OF EXAM AND DUE DATES FOR MAJOR COURSE REQUIREMENTS (ANDOPTIONAL PAPER)
MIDTERM EXAM: THURSDAY, JUNE 11
1ST DRAFT OF OPTIONAL PAPER: THURSDAY JUNE 11
2D DRAFT OF OPTIONAL PAPER: THURSDAY, JUNE 18
FINAL EXAM: THURSDAY, JUNE 25
TENTATIVE COURSE SCHEDULE AND READING ASSIGNMENTS
The course meets Monday through Thursday over the course of 5 weeks.Please read assignments before the date indicated (excepting "Day1").
(5/26 and 5/27) Introduction to the subject. The usefulness of worryingahead. Theory and practice. Civil Disobedience. Read Wellman, Chapter 1.Read Card's "Unaccompanied Sonata."
(5/28) The Nature of Right and Wrong. Read Wellman, Chapter 2.
(6/1) Genetic Engineering. Read Wellman, Chapter 3. Read Card's "GertFram."
(6/2) The Good. Read Wellman, Chapter 4. Read Card's "The Best Day."
(6/3) Are cheaters qua cheaters morally evil? Read Wellman, Chapter 5.
(6/4 and 6/8) Moral Value. Read Wellman, Chapter 6. Read Card's "ThePorcelain Salamander" and "Middle Woman."
( 6/9 and 6/10) Abortion. Read Wellman, Chapter 7.
(6/11) JUNE 11: IN-CLASS MIDTERM. FIRST DRAFT OF OPTIONAL PAPER DUE.
(6/15) The End of the Law. Read Wellman, Chapter 8. Read Card's "PriorRestraint" and review Card's "Unaccompanied Sonata."
(6/16) Preferential Admissions. Read Wellman, Chapter 9. Read Card, "Bicicleta."
(6/17 & 6/18) What is "A Right"? Read Wellman, Chapter 10.THURSDAY, JUNE 18: 2D DRAFT OF OPTIONAL PAPER DUE
(6/22) Is Capital Punishment ever right? Read Wellman, Chapter 11.Read Card's "A Thousand Deaths" and "Sandmagic."
(6/23-6/24); How can anyone one ever know which act is right? Read Wellman,Chapter 12. Read Card's "The Monkey's Thought 'Twas All in Fun."The challenges of ethical skepticism, relativism, emotivism, sophism. Responsesto the challenges. The authoritarian paradox, revelation, intuitionism,naturalism, good reasons approach. Read Wellman, Conclusion. Read Card,"Lost Boys." Ethical systems and the challenge of science. Determinismand free-will. Ethical systems and codification. Theory and practice again.
(6/25) THURSDAY, JUNE 25: IN-CLASS FINAL.
Questions, comments, additions, and corrections are welcome.
Please send them to
Le Moyne College Department of Philosophy
Syracuse, NY 13214
(The homepage is at http://webserver.lemoyne.edu/~kagan/index.htmlwhere you can find links to this syllabus and other materials for thiscourse.)